Meat & Livestock News

2023: A Landmark Year for Australian Beef Exports

Closeup of three cosher meat steaks with bone for dinner


  • Exports exceeded 1.08 million tonnes, the highest in five years.
  • A 27% increase from the previous year, surpassing the five-year average by 6%.
  • The United States became the top importer of Australian beef, with over 246,000 tonnes.
  • Japan and China followed closely in import volumes.
  • Other markets like South Korea, Indonesia, Taiwan, and the Philippines also grew substantially.
  • The UK imported less than expected despite a new trade agreement, while the EU showed modest increases.
  • The year reflects significant expansion and diversification in the Australian beef export market.

Australia witnessed a remarkable surge in beef exports in 2023, reaching a volume not seen in the past five years. Official data from the Department of Agriculture reveals that exports exceeded 1.08 million tonnes, a significant jump from the previous year and the highest since the drought-driven peak of 2019.

The year 2023 marked a recovery from a 19-year low in 2022, with exports increasing by over 227,000 tonnes, a 27% rise. This performance also surpassed the five-year average by 6%, indicating a robust rebound in the sector.

December’s export figures, often lower due to seasonal production breaks, reflected a strong end to the year. The exports for the month were notably higher than the previous year, thanks to a boost in beef production in eastern Australia during the final quarter.

The United States reclaimed its position as the top destination for Australian beef, importing over 246,000 tonnes. This marked a significant recovery from two quieter years and represented 23% of Australia’s total beef exports in 2023.

Japan and China closely followed the US in import volumes. Japan’s imports, primarily of chilled and grain fed beef, were slightly higher in value than China’s. China’s imports saw a 30% increase from the previous year, yet Australia’s share in China’s total beef imports remained around 7%.

South Korea continued as a steady market, with a 17% increase in imports. Emerging markets like Indonesia, Taiwan, and the Philippines also showed substantial growth in their import volumes.

The Middle East region, while showing a slight increase in imports, continued to lean towards more cost-effective South American beef. Canada’s imports notably doubled, likely influenced by drought conditions in North America.

In contrast, the United Kingdom, despite the new free trade agreement, imported a modest volume of Australian beef, far less than anticipated. The European Union, without a similar agreement, showed a modest increase in imports.

2023 thus stands as a year of significant expansion and diversification for Australian beef exports, reflecting the industry’s resilience and adaptability in a changing global market.